On a backdrop of the pandemic and the personal changes many have experienced within it, Jitrois introduces us to its new collection — a daring series ideal for the Autumn/Winter 2021/22 season. This year has been one of massive change, sometimes resembling Ovid’s famous poem Metamorphoses, which Jean Claude Jitrois cites as inspiration. The poem serves as a frame of reference for the collection, grasping at the growth of the present as we approach a new golden age. Designed to suit the current needs of our society — and with love and life itself as a unifying thread — Jitrois uses this collection to offer an opportunity for everyone to rise up and contend with this newfound change.
Exploring the digital space, this year’s Paris Fashion Week presentation served as means of galvanising the label’s ethos, blending its digital and physical world offerings like never before. The label’s video debut for the collection unveils the garments and accompanies them with a story, exploring the subject and the general present-day connotation of “love” and its new meaning, according to Jitrois’ perception.
Schön! spoke to Jean Claude Jitrois about love, the new collection and what the label has in store for us next.
Introduce us to this collection. What are some of the things that inspired it?
In this period, I am of course influenced by the state of our society and the aspirations, or needs, of individuals within this climate. Having a background in psychodrama and being a specialist of psychomotricity, I guess I am always in my therapist suit. Giving attention to people around me drives me to create with this mantra: what can they wear that is going to help them to be more themselves — stronger, fearless, loving and expressive?
This season, I found key inspirations from the concepts of evolution, love and, of course, the ever-changing landscape that we currently occupy globally. I wanted more than anything for them to feel ready for battle, layers that effortlessly create a built-up silhouette that resembles a beautiful modern-day armour: forever protective in its nature, yet always practical in its form. The layering of items is also an invitation for everyone to appropriate my collection and make it their own.
There’s a parallel between this collection and Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”. How does “Metamorphoses” influence the collection?
Yes, the poem of Ovid came to me while creating the collection almost as an interpretive grid to better understand the processes at work in our society while it goes through the current crisis. People talk a lot about transformation, but that’s just a trendy word. In the poem, Ovid blends mythology, allegories and actual history. He is telling us a story of constant change, of ongoing mutations. Love is the trigger of those allegorical metamorphoses, which come for better or worse. Now, my belief is love is now the driver of positive transformation, whether it is self-love, love of others around us or universal love. The metamorphosis could be a catalyst for us to re-enchant our world with love.
As for the collection, I am naturally a big supporter of self-love as a passport for universal love. The clothes are a series of harmonious tools, taken individually or combined. The collection is designed to support each one of us as we go through metamorphosis, adapt to and live our best lives, feeding and strengthening our natural capacity to love.
In the video, you aim to highlight what you call “the ever-evolving meaning of love”. In your time as a designer, how has this meaning evolved, in your judgement?
One lover cannot exist without the other. We now know that love is meant to transform you and bring out the best in you, which can sometimes show darkness. The meaning of love is ever-changing; love is something that has no definite meaning other than being the movement towards the other, from the individual to the whole. I think the meaning of the word “love” is bound to ever-evolve as it is caught in our societal and historical backgrounds.
I personally experienced the meaning of love across five decades from the 70s, so I leave to your imagination how ever-evolving that was….
What influenced the story manifested in the video?
It started simply to depict how much lovers can feel at the moment, in times of restrictions, borders closed and so on, ending on a powerful image that anyone can interpret. Are the lovers reunited? Or have they been sacrificed? In the video, I wanted to show that people of all age groups, cultures and orientations intertwine in a shared unknown, that we are all going through at the moment. This story comes from the psychology of emotions: is it only the sensation of deep affection, or does it translate to an intensity of feeling?
Let’s talk about Paris Fashion Week. How did this year’s preparation and execution compare with other years?
Undoubtedly, as a brand, we relied so much on technology to connect us in a way that we never had done before. In many ways, the disconnection of the energy exchange happening in physical gathering fuelled the team’s digital creativity. Most of our fittings were done remotely with little staff being present at any given time in the atelier. Like most of the world, our on-screen interactions still allowed the team to remain united, informed and present. The new digital fashion presentation formats of Paris Fashion Week opens up an immense field of possibilities, multiplying the intensity of the subject and inspiring further creation.
This collection is filled with bright colours. What inspired this decision, and how does it contribute to the emotional themes of this collection?
Colour most certainly plays an important role in the threads that tie this current collection together, aligning the function of each piece with an emotion. Fuchsia and burgundy igniting warmth and passion, the blue and green hues promoting peace and serenity as well as the yellow and tan hues celebrating hope and harmony.
How did Jitrois adapt to the pandemic? Did you make any changes that you feel will impact the future of the brand?
With metamorphoses! We translated our culture, brand values, codes and customer experience online. It remains only a partial answer, as I can observe the need for physical interaction is getting even stronger. This said, the pandemic probably forced us and gave us time to accelerate on intertwining our online and physical experience. That is the silver lining of having peace of mind, a room of your own and a digital window onto the world. So, the pandemic definitely created a space to deal with the future anyway. It just happened sooner than we thought.
What’s next for Jitrois?
We ourselves got transformed in the process — got more agile, re-energized. The Jitrois brand is now turning 40, and its values have never been so actual, universal. What we have learnt is the importance of togetherness in creativity.
The future for Jitrois lies in the art of collaboration. Connecting ideas in a new and exciting way. The perfect example being our recent project with Caroline Gaspar, designer of Akillis, a rising star in French jewellery. It is the perfect meeting of two rock and roll minds.
photography. Franck Disegni
direction. Celine Rey
dop. Omer Faraj
art direction. Jean-Claude Jitrois
creation. Geraud Gracci
styling. J. Wilson
hair + make up. Natsuki Oneyama
sound design. Tal Yaron, Quentin Fagart + Ronan Canal
story + voices. Jean-Claude Jitrois, Clemence Goudard, Amanda Padro + Fatma Fellah
head of studio. Tristan Van Bruwaene
special thanks. Clara Lachaux + e-shop studio
the jitrois team. Gilbert Maria, Yann Patry, Clement Gay + Ludovic Garçon